Job Description

Dr. Neil Thompson seeks to hire a Postdoctoral Associate to work on the following topics:

(i)                Understanding the key innovation trends in computing and artificial intelligence

Trends in computing are often studied, but usually with a focus on hardware rather than algorithm or software progress. But understanding all three, and how they interact, is essential for predicting how techniques like deep learning will improve and whether they will need to be supplanted by other approaches.

(ii)              Analyzing the economic and policy implications of these trends

In recent decades, progress in computing has been responsible for perhaps a third of all productivity improvements, making it one of the largest contributors to human prosperity. But will this continue as Moore’s Law fades? Will the economics of chip manufacturing allow a replacement based on chip specialization (e.g. Huang’s Law)? What effects are algorithm improvements in A.I. and elsewhere having on firms?

In addition to researching these issues with Dr. Thompson, the post-doc will be expected to become a leader in the lab, e.g. by mentoring (and co-authoring with) younger students.

Based on the applicant’s background and preferences, the post-doc could be housed at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, the MIT Sloan School of Management, or possibly both.


$65,000 per year, plus benefits.

To apply

By January 3rd 2021, upload to ACM or send an email to Dr. Neil Thompson ( with the following materials:

(i)               CV

(ii)              Sample of previous research

(iii)             Sample of code

(iv)             Cover letter discussing the applicant’s experience and research goals and explaining how these fit with this position

Selected candidates will be interviewed in January via zoom.

About Dr. Thompson

Dr. Thompson was a professor of Innovation and Strategy at the MIT Sloan School of Management from 2013 until 2018, when he became a Research Scientist at CSAIL and IDE. His PhD is in Business & Public Policy from Berkeley. He also holds Master’s degrees in Computer Science (Berkeley), Economics (London School of Economics), and Statistics (Berkeley). Prior to joining academia, Dr. Thompson was a management consultant with Bain & Company.

Examples of Dr. Thompson’s recent research:

There’s plenty of room at the Top: What will drive computer performance after Moore’s law?


The Computational Limits of Deep Learning

(In Review at Nature Machine Intelligence)

Science Is Shaped by Wikipedia: Evidence from a Randomized Control Trial

(In Review at AEJ: Applied Economics)

The Decline of Computers as a General Purpose Technology: Why Deep Learning and the End of Moore’s Law are Fragmenting Computing

(Forthcoming at Communications of the ACM)

About the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL)

CSAIL is one of the world’s top research centers for computer science and artificial intelligence (currently ranked #1). It has hosted 9 Turing awards winners (the “Nobel Prize of Computing”) and has pioneered many of the technologies that underpin computing.

About the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy (IDE)

The MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy is a team of internationally recognized thought leaders and researchers examining how people and businesses work, interact, and prosper in a time of rapid digital transformation. It is housed at the MIT Sloan School of Management.


  • PhD or equivalent[1] in either (computer science / electrical engineering) or (management / economics), as well as substantial exposure to the other area (e.g. an undergraduate degree)
  • Strong data analysis skills, including statistical or econometric training
  • Proficiency with a modern programming language, e.g. Python, R
  • Solid English communication skills (verbal and written)
  • Desire and skill (e.g. organizational abilities) to work in teams across multiple projects
  • Previous work or training in A.I., algorithms or computer hardware is also a plus


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